Baseball: Patriots win two of three

The Patriots topped Pierz and Greenway, but lost a close one to Esko

NISSWA — Ethan Quale was 3-for-3 with two runs and an RBI as the Pequot Lakes Patriots defeated the Pierz Pioneers 7-3 in a non-conference game Friday, May 19.

Connor Quale added a triple and three RBIs for the Patriots who scored five runs in the bottom of the second and never relinquished the lead.

Caden Nelson pitched all seven innings for the Patriots to get the win.

Pierz 3 6 1

Pequot Lakes 7 6 2

WP: Caden Nelson. LP: Brayden Haberman. 2B: Prz-Weston Woitalla. 3B: PL-Connor Quale. HR: Prz-Reese Young.

Esko 2, Patriots 0
ESKO — It wasn’t how most of Esko’s wins have looked this season, but senior Cale Haugen had the timely hit when they needed it.

Haugen sent a line drive into right field in the bottom of the third inning, driving in Ty Christensen to give the Eskomos a two-run lead, a lead they would hang onto for a 2-0 win over Pequot Lakes Thursday.


Finn Furcht allowed five hits over six and two-thirds innings and struck out 11 batters for Esko, to grab the win.

“Finn just pitched his tail off. I don’t think they got a guy past second base all game long,” Esko coach Ben Haugen said. “In the first inning, I think he had four first-pitch balls, but after that he was getting ahead of batters and keeping them off balance. Even if they got a hit early in the inning, he was able to mitigate that. I just think he pitched a heck of a game.”

This season, Esko hitters have grabbed most of the headlines. The undefeated Eskomos have scored less than five runs in a game only three times this season and they have just six where they scored fewer than 10.

Cal Berglund scored on a passed ball in the first inning for Esko, but otherwise, Pequot Lakes pitcher Grant Loge was about as sharp as he could be, allowing just two hits and striking out three in the loss for the Patriots.

“We’ve talked all year about our consistency, we come out and play like this and some games we don’t,” Patriots coach John Kotaska said. “Grant came out and threw a lot of strikes and that’s big with a team like this — you can’t give them walks to turn the lineup over to get back to 2, 3 and 4. Those guys were taking some good swings.”
Esko (16-0), the fourth-ranked AA team in Minnesota, is hitting .345 as a team with 60 extra base hits and 14 home runs.

“We knew they could hit the ball,” Loge said. “Today, I just wanted to come and throw strikes, work on my control a little bit and then just trust my defense and not try to do it all myself. I think we did that today.”

high school athletes play baseball
Grant Loge (4) of Pequot Lakes pitches the ball against Esko on Thursday in Esko.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Until Thursday against Pequot Lakes, Esko had scored a minimum of 10 runs in its last seven contests and the Eskomos have hit 11 of their 14 home runs. While they are clearly hitting well, Haugen knows that his team will be facing better pitchers when the postseason starts. Still, there aren’t a lot of holes in the Eskomos lineup.

“Top to bottom, we’re really good, but, to be honest, we haven’t faced a Grant Loge in a couple of weeks,” Haugen said. “The stats are a little bit deceiving — we’re not going to be putting up those ridiculous numbers come crunch time against the better pitching in the area.”


high school athletes play baseball
Esko first baseman AJ Kazel (4) tries to catch Riggs Magnuson (3) of Pequot Lakes off the bag on Thursday in Esko.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Still those stats are truly gaudy. Cale Haugen leads the team with a .600 batting average, five home runs and 33 RBIs. What’s more, he has struck out just twice in 61 plate appearances.

Coach Haugen said the senior has “always had power,” but this season he’s been “more aggressive at the plate.”

“As a sophomore he hit seven home runs, and last year he was content with being choosy, taking pitches and walking,” coach Haugen said. “This year he’s had the mentality that if they throw it over the plate, ‘I’m going to go get it,’ and he has the ability to do that. I think he just has the mindset where he’s going to drive in runs — he’s going to be the guy.”

Teammate Isaak Sertich has hit all four of his home runs in the seven-game stretch and has raised his average from .207 May 5 to .340 following Thursday’s game.

“We always start off the game good and our hitting is very contagious,” Sertich said. “We all have good energy and support each other even through the ups and downs. We go out there and get the job down on defense because we look forward to hitting all the time.”

Last season, Cale Haugen walked 21 times in 25 games, but in 2023, he’s walked just nine times through 16 games. The Minnesota State-Mankato recruit has certainly been more aggressive at the plate, but because the players around him are hitting well, he’s seeing more pitches over the plate, too.

“We’ve tried to build our lineup where we’re going to have guys ahead of him that are going to get on base,” coach Haugen said. “Sam Haugen and Ty Christensen have done that, and then we’ve got Bryce Hipp, Isaak Sertich and Finn Furcht behind him. All those guys have home runs, and all those guys drive in runs. It’s just a luxury of having experience and guys that can drive the ball behind Cale so they can’t pitch around him.”

Despite a tougher hitting day than they’ve had in awhile, Haugen is confident they can win in multiple different ways.


“We know we’re going to get the job done,” Haugen said. “Everyone in the lineup trusts everyone else to do their part. We didn’t have a lot of base running today, but just the fact that we took advantage when we did get base runners, that’s what makes us a special team. We’re able to capitalize on the opportunities we’re given whether they are large or small.”

high school athletes play baseball
Riggs Magnuson (3) of Pequot Lakes hits the ball against Esko on Thursday in Esko.
Clint Austin / Duluth News Tribune

Pequot Lakes 8, Greenway 5

PEQUOT LAKES — Griffin Hoffman hit a home run for the Pequot Lakes Patriots as they defeated the Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin Raiders 8-5 in a non-conference game Tuesday, May 16.

Connor Quale was 2-for-2 with two RBIs while Alex Peterson and Riggs Magnuson each tripled for the Patriots.

Owen Kruger pitched five innings as he picked up the win after striking out five and giving up three earned runs. Caden Nelson picked up the save with two shutout innings.

Greenway/Nashwauk-Keewatin 5 8 2

Pequot Lakes 8 6 1

WP: Owen Kruger. S: Caden Nelson. 2B: Clay Erickson. 3B: Alex Peterson, Riggs Magnuson. HR: Griffin Hoffman.

Jamey Malcomb has a been high school sports reporter for the Duluth News Tribune since October 2021. He spent the previous six years covering news and sports for the Lake County News-Chronicle in Two Harbors and the Cloquet Pine Journal. He graduated from the George Washington University in 1999 with a bachelor's degree in history and literature and also holds a master's degree in secondary English education from George Mason University.
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